Worksystems Executive Director Andrew McGough and staff Patrick Gihring and Sean Kelly presented our local approach to co-locating workforce services at the March, 2013 National Association of Workforce Boards' annual conference in Washington DC.
In 2008, the State of Oregon adopted a new model to deliver public workforce services. The Oregon Employment Department, the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development and local Workforce Investment Boards forged an agreement on an integrated model that brought Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Wagner-Peyser and state resources under the same roof at the local level to jointly implement a workforce development system that provides skill development and employment opportunities for a common customer pool. Oregon is one of only a handful of states that enrolls all jobseekers in Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs up front when they first come to a WorkSource Center. This creates an annual customer pool of over 100,000 people in contrast to states that run more traditional WIA programs serving under 10,000 jobseekers annually.
As a result of these changes, last-year the Portland Metropolitan workforce system placed more than 46,000 WIA customers into employment, with 6 month earnings of almost half a billion dollars, while meeting or exceeding all federal and state performance standards. In 2011, Oregon served the 2nd highest number of dislocated workers in the nation, had the 2nd highest numbers of these workers gain employment with the 2nd highest total earnings - despite the State's relatively small population. When compared with the performance of traditional models, Oregon’s employment rate is slightly lower, however our retention in employment and earnings rate are comparable. These outcomes show that our integrated approach to serving all job seekers makes the public workforce system more relevant to the labor market and the local economy while still meeting the performance expectations of our federal funders.
The presentation was well attended and generated a lively discussion with a national audience regarding state and local roles, the benefits to businesses and workers, and the implications (national, state and local) for the system moving forward.